Baby containers are products that limit movement when you put your baby in them. Examples of baby containers are jumpers, swings, bumbo seats, and exersaucers. As physical therapists, we know that these have a possibility of delaying gross motor skills or causing abnormal or asymmetrical movement patterns. We recommend spending as much time as possible out of containers and on a firm, flat surface, but we also know it’s not always possible. When you need to shower, cook dinner, or clean up, sometimes a container is your best bet. That is why I’m going to offer some alternatives for typical baby containers to see if you can make some swaps in your daily routine!
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Swap the Bumbo for a Laundry Basket
An infant seat “traps” your kid in a position that often times does not promote great spinal alignment. A laundry basket has more room to move, so it’s not considered a container, and it encourages natural spinal curves in sitting. If your baby still needs a lot of assistance to sit, put the boppy pillow or some blankets around them for a little bit of support.
Here is a link to a very sturdy laundry basket that would take a lot to tip over!
Swap your Jumper for a Baby Carrier
To be completely honest, this is my least favorite container. If you’re going to swap any of these, PLEASE swap this one! A baby carrier technically is a container as well, but it’s one that I like. If used properly, it has great benefits for strength, range of motion, and the vestibular system. I recommend rear facing (facing you) until able to sit independently.
Here is my favorite baby carrier that fits most body types.
Swap Bouncers/Loungers for an Activity Mat
Baby loungers and bouncers are a very short lived container. They should really only be used until baby can roll, and it becomes dangerous for them to be in them after that point. They are often used for naps, which is also not a safe place for your child to be sleeping on an incline! Swap it for an activity mat, where baby has a flat space to rotate the head, kick, and work on rolling.
Here is the activity mat in the above picture, which is one of the best on the market, and not overpriced!
Swap Swings for Pack and Play
First of all, can we talk about how expensive some of these swings are?! The incline and shape of them prevent free, independent movement. A pack and play can provide better benefits and more space to move. If the goal of a swing is sleep, try the pack and play with a sound machine and swaddle for similar calming effects!
Here is a pack and play that has a bassinet insert and comes with a mobile to keep baby entertained. You don’t necessarily need all of these fancy features, but they are helpful with younger ones.
There are lots more swaps I could recommend, but I hope this is enough to get you started. If you still choose to use containers, that is OKAY! Please do what’s best for your family. I recommend 15 minutes per day in containers, but I know circumstances are unique in every family. I am just here to provide education from a therapist standpoint so that you can make the best decision for you!